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to drive or not to drive : driving on the right in England

to drive or not to drive : driving on the right in England

Aug 10th, 2011, 09:48 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 313
thanks for all the great tips. we are definitely driving. and will buy add'l insurance ( currently looking into it ) for ... just in case. it just occured to me to take similar precautions i.e. look right first, then left before crossing a street.
flyme2themoon is offline  
Aug 10th, 2011, 11:54 PM
Join Date: May 2007
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As one typical occasional tourist driver, I can say (and it doesn't mean that it will apply to you) that driving on the left is no big issue. Once you go with the flow, it will become unnatural to suddenly get into the wrong lane.

Nevertheless, I will never be able to shift with my left.

A few situations when you might feel the desire to get back into the old routine of driving on the right side:

Country road with no marked lanes and no traffic, when all of a sudden a car is approaching.
Getting back into the car after a break (gas station, lunch break). Or when you exit a huge parking garage or lot with an odd layout. So more or less the situation when you get back into normal street traffic. Just switch on brain first, then the car.

Look for traffic signs. They usually are posted at the curb of your lane, not on the opposite side.

When making turns (i.e. not having a roundabout to guide you) or at pedestrian crossing islands, look for the blue signs with white arrows pointing in the proper direction (if they exist). They can look like this:

Roundabouts are not really scary, as they also slow down traffic. But even the locals can get lost once in a while:

Not RHD-related:
If you look for a place to park the car, take clamping/towing signs seriously! Also when parking on lots which have spaces designated for customers of that supermarket, shop, lawyer etc...
Don't think "Oh, it won't hurt if I just park for an hour and explore the town..."
Cowboy1968 is offline  
Aug 11th, 2011, 03:25 AM
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 999
flyme2the moon - very good point about being a pedestrian on the opposite side. I was going to mention that in my post but got carried away with the 'hitting the wall' memory...
You really DO have to remind yourself of where to look for the traffic, I have had more near misses as a pedestrian than a driver I think.
ozgirl is offline  
Aug 11th, 2011, 03:55 AM
Join Date: Apr 2011
Posts: 328
As another Australian, I am with Ozgirl. We visit France and that means driving on the other side for us. After the first day or so it just seems normal because you are going with the flow of traffic. Having a car gives you the freedom to do what you want when you want, so go for it. DH does the driving and we always get a manual and he does not have any difficulty adjusting. We also love the UK, and do find driving a bit different with the narrower roads[ when you are off the motorway] and cars parked making it even narrower. Have fun.
rhon is offline  
Aug 11th, 2011, 06:06 AM
Join Date: Aug 2011
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Just avoid the Magic Roundabout in Swindon:

Have a good holiday.

geep999 is offline  
Aug 11th, 2011, 08:09 AM
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"Just avoid the Magic Roundabout in Swindon:"

peter, will definitely avoid the magic roundabout. it looks very intimidating. are there other cities in the English countrysidethat have these types of roundabouts ?( so i can avoid them , lol )
flyme2themoon is offline  
Aug 11th, 2011, 08:12 AM
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If you look for a place to park the car, take clamping/towing signs seriously! Also when parking on lots which have spaces designated for customers of that supermarket, shop, lawyer etc...
Don't think "Oh, it won't hurt if I just park for an hour and explore the town..."

Cowboy, thanks for the warning on parking legally.
flyme2themoon is offline  
Aug 11th, 2011, 08:34 AM
Join Date: Oct 2005
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geep999: That was just plain mean

flyme2themoon: You won't drive through central Swindon -- unless your GPS/navigator are having fun w/ you

That is about the only thing Swindon is famous for, and you won't see anything like it. (BTW -- it isn't quite as hard as it looks). But if you do happen to find yourselves on the M4 at Swindon heading up to say Burford or Oxford--just be sure to use junction 15 (NOT 16) -- and you will safely avoid the Magic Roundabout . . .
janisj is online now  
Aug 12th, 2011, 07:23 AM
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thanks to you all for some great tips, sp to you janis, for getting us to give driving a second look since my other post. we were originally resigned to taking a bus tour (gulp) of the cotswolds. all 3 of us are indeed very happy about the decision to drive and look forward to the adventure.

just a matter now of deciding where to pick up the car and where to base ourselves for 2 nights, taking into account that we will now be arriving in a car ( maybe a town warning is in order, for the newbie right hand drivers ) and easy or better yet free parking will be desirable.

if you have further input on the subject of a good base for car drivers, that will be much appreciated too.
flyme2themoon is offline  
Aug 12th, 2011, 08:23 AM
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there's a "magic roundabout" in Truro, but it's nothing like the Swindon one, being a tame two roundabout system.

Truro would be a very easy place to pick up a car, the magic roundabout not withstanding.
annhig is offline  
Aug 12th, 2011, 08:41 AM
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How about just turning on your hazard blinkers?!
TDudette is offline  
Aug 12th, 2011, 08:48 AM
Join Date: May 2003
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I don't get an car with an automatic transmission because my experience has been that they're extremely expensive--sometimes almost twice as much as a standard transmission. Only in Italy did I rent an automatic, and as I recall the price wasn't too much higher than a standard.

If you are going to try to rent an automatic, reserve it as far in advance as you can. The rental agency may have a limited number of automatics.

I agree that one should pick up the car from the airport. I have found that it's much easier for me to get used to the new car when I can go directly onto a main road/ freeway, etc., than to try to navigate around small, unfamiliar streets.

My sister was my navigator on our trips to England and Ireland. She would gasp when I was too close to a rock wall, so that became our signal that I should move a bit the other way. I lost three hubcaps in Ireland because there was shrubbery very close to the narrow roads.

I did have an accident in England, when at the end of a long day, I became momentarily confused about entering a dual carriageway from a side street. After that, we decided that I should drive no more than three hours per day on a given leg.

I drove cars with standard transmissions for many years, but I still sometimes have difficulties if I have to stop (for a traffic light or stop sign) on a hill. At places like those, I do long for an automatic.
Pegontheroad is offline  
Aug 12th, 2011, 08:42 PM
Join Date: Dec 2006
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The choice of manual or automatic is at the end up to the comfort level of the driver with standard shifting.

I found that after the first day, it became more and more natural to drive on the left and for me getting used to the spacial relationship from the right hand perspective took longer than the switch from right handed to left handed shifting. Of the places I drove, the easiest was on the country lanes of the Cotswolds and on the limited access highway, the latter feeling no different than driving in the US.
basingstoke2 is offline  
Aug 13th, 2011, 08:07 PM
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 986
Took nylon ties to Ireland trip before last to attach the hubcaps; found that someone had beat me to it. Took them again last time and of course, wheels with no hubcaps. Still wouldn't hurt to take some.
jaja is offline  
Aug 14th, 2011, 06:32 AM
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Hubcaps? I don't think I've ever lost one, at home or abroad.

and Cornish hedges pack a punch, I can tell you!
annhig is offline  
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